TikTok on government devices under assessment in Canada

Click to play video: 'Canadian privacy watchdogs launch TikTok investigation'
Canadian privacy watchdogs launch TikTok investigation
WATCH: Canadian privacy watchdogs launch TikTok investigation – Feb 23, 2023

Ottawa is weighing recent moves by allies that banned the controversial social media application TikTok from government devices, but there’s no word yet if a similar ban could happen here.

The Treasury Board Secretariat, the nerve centre of federal government processes and functioning, said in a statement sent to Global News on Friday that it is working with other departments to “ensure government information systems and networks remain secure and protected.”

“The Government of Canada is assessing the situation, including the legislative announcement by our U.S. allies, and recently the European Commission, and will determine next steps as necessary,” a spokesperson for TBS said in a statement.

Global News had asked whether the agency was considering banning the app on government devices.

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The European Commission announced an outright ban on the use of the application on work phones Thursday morning — including personal devices that are enrolled in the commission’s “mobile device service.”

The app has also been banned in India, and the United States is currently considering legislation to ban TikTok amid fears it could be used to spy on Americans and censor content.

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Congress also recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security, and the U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.

Click to play video: 'TikTok’s algorithm aggressively pushes harmful content to teens, study finds'
TikTok’s algorithm aggressively pushes harmful content to teens, study finds

The concerns clouding the social media platform stem from TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance.

The company has faced criticism from those who warn that China’s government could access user data, such as browsing history and location — thanks to a Chinese law that requires private companies to cooperate with Beijing if asked.

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Why is TikTok under investigation in Canada?

Canada’s federal privacy watchdog also announced on Thursday that it is launching a joint investigation into TikTok with three provincial counterparts.

The investigation, the privacy commissioner’s office said, will dig into whether TikTok’s practices are “in compliance” with Canadian privacy legislation and whether “meaningful consent is being obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.”

Of particular concern to the watchdogs is the privacy of the younger Canadians, who dominate the use of the application in the country.

A survey conducted by Toronto Metropolitan University’s Social Media Lab, released in September, found that just 26 per cent of all Canadians currently use TikTok. However, 76 per cent of those aged 18-24 have an account on the platform, it revealed.

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Canadian MPs are also set to probe security concerns about the popular social media application at a parliamentary committee.

The House of Commons ethics committee voted earlier this month to undertake a study into TikTok and other social media platforms’ use “of private information of Canadians for the objective of data harvesting.”

TikTok was the most-downloaded application in 2022, according to Forbes.

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